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Forensics Colleges in Ohio

For Buckeye state residents interested in forensic science, crime scene investigation (CSI) and related disciplines, there are a number of quality forensics colleges in Ohio (OH). After graduating from a program, these professionals typically help in solving crimes by collecting evidence from crime scenes; performing laboratory analyses; collaborating with various experts in fields such as ballistics, handwriting, and metallurgy; and even testifying in court.

In Ohio, there are a variety of top programs, including flexible online options, for those who want to become involved in this exciting line of work. In order to become a forensic scientist, candidates typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences. Others, including many crime scene investigators, may get their careers started in a police academy, garnering many of the necessary skills while in the field. There are a variety of paths for aspiring forensic scientists detailed below.

Forensic science is a relatively high-paying career, especially in Ohio. According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), forensic science technicians make an average of $61,220 annually, significantly higher than the average salary for all occupations in the country ($50,620). There is especially good news for forensic scientists in Ohio, as the annual average salary for forensic science techs in this state is slightly higher than the national average at $65,890. The BLS estimates that there are currently 400 forensic science technicians employed in Ohio, although this figure is expected to grow in coming years (BLS 2017). Between 2016 and 2026, the number of forensic science techs in the U.S. is expected to climb 17 percent, with a number of those job openings in Ohio.

To learn about degree programs, certifications, and the job outlook for forensic scientists in Ohio, read on below.
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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Ohio

In order to become a forensic scientist in Ohio, there are a variety of educational and experiential paths, although a four-year college degree is a typical requirement. Here is one of the most common routes for a career in forensic science:


  • Step 1: Graduate from high school. Candidates for forensic science positions typically have strong backgrounds in natural sciences and mathematics, including classes in chemistry, physics, biology, and calculus. These disciplines lend themselves to the laboratory work and detail-oriented scientific analyses expected for this position.
  • Step 2: Pursue a bachelor’s degree in a field such as chemistry, biology, physics or a related science (4 years). Successful forensic scientists in Ohio also typically take courses in statistics, writing, and mathematics. While crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians may be able to work with a high school degree and relevant experience, forensic scientists in Ohio typically need a bachelor’s degree to work in a lab. According to Career One Stop, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, 32 percent of reporting forensic scientists reported having a bachelor’s degree, 14 percent had associate degrees, and 21 percent had some college. The BLS (2017) notes that there may be exceptions for these basic educational requirements, especially in rural areas where there is a high demand.
  • Step 3: Seek certification from a national organization (Optional, timeline varies). Although certification is not required to practice forensic science in Ohio, there are a number of organizations which offer certification, particularly for specific sub-disciplines. The most common certifying organizations include the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) and the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) provides a comprehensive list of accredited professional certification bodies, many of which offer membership or certification benefits, including region-specific chapters and networking.
  • Step 4: Pursue a master’s degree in forensic science (Optional, 2 years). Those interested in further specializing or enhancing their skills may choose to pursue a post-baccalaureate degree. Career One Stop reports that 16 percent of forensic scientists have these more advanced degrees (e.g., master’s, professional, or doctoral).

Therefore, in Ohio, aspiring forensic scientists can expect to complete four to six years of postsecondary work, in addition to completing optional certification requirements. Again, while registering as a forensic scientist is not required for practice in the state of Ohio, it may be desirable to enhance one’s credentials at various employing organizations. By passing aptitude tests or fulfilling membership criteria in organizations such as the ABC, candidates may enhance their candidacy for various jobs.

Also, by taking electives such as toxicology, psychology, or physical anthropology, forensic scientists can hone their skills in specific areas. According to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), there are a number of specialized disciplines within forensic science, including the following:

  • Anthropology
  • Criminalistics
  • Digital & Multimedia Sciences
  • Engineering Sciences
  • General
  • Jurisprudence
  • Odontology
  • Pathology/Biology
  • Psychiatry & Behavioral Science
  • Questioned Documents
  • Toxicology


Taking electives in any of the subjects listed above may help forensic scientists secure jobs with more specific skill requirements. For more information, the ForensicsColleges.com education blog offers a detailed breakdown of how to become a forensic scientist.

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator in Ohio

According to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Laboratory Division, there are over 160,000 pieces of evidence processed annually in crime scene investigations. In order to become a crime scene investigator in Ohio, candidates typically do the following:


  • Step 1: Graduate from high school (4 years). Crime scene investigators in Ohio typically need at least a high school degree to join this field.
  • Step 2: Complete a program at a police academy (Optional, typically 6 months). Some crime scene investigators in Ohio complete a program at a police academy and much of the training happens on the job. This may be sufficient for employment in some more rural agencies if combined with years of relevant work experience.
  • Step 3: Get an associate or bachelor’s degree in a field such as criminal justice, criminology, crime scene investigation or forensic technology (Optional, 18 months to 4 years). Many crime scene investigators in Ohio choose to get a degree that teaches them specific skills in their field. Some of the classes in these programs may include analytical chemistry, forensic science, and law enforcement.
  • Step 4: Pursue a certification (Optional, timeline varies). Some crime scene investigators in Ohio choose to get certified. While there are many organizations which offer certifications, one of the most common in this line of work is the International Association for Identification (IAI). Requirements for certification as a crime scene investigator include full-time employment, at least one year experience, 48 hours of crime scene certification board-approved courses, two letters of endorsement, an application fee, and passing a written test with a score of at least 75 percent. This certification is valid for five years. Other certifying agencies include the International Crime Scene Investigators Association (ICSIA).

Therefore, crime scene investigators in Ohio can expect to complete six months to four years of postsecondary work, in addition to optional certification requirements. Again, while certification by agencies such as the ICSIA is not a requirement in Ohio, it may be desirable as a show of a candidate’s aptitude when applying for jobs.

Prior to seeking a CSI program or a certification, candidates in Ohio should be sure to check the requirements of their intended place of employment. For more information, the ForensicsColleges.com education blog features a detailed breakdown of how to become a crime scene investigator.

Occupational Demand in Ohio

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes both forensic scientists and CSIs under its “forensic science technician” categorization. According to the BLS (2017), there are 400 forensic science technicians working in Ohio. The BLS projects that openings in this field will grow 17 percent between 2016 and 2026, with a number of these openings in Ohio. Indeed, Career One Stop indicates a predicted growth of 24 percent in this field specific to Ohio (CareerOneStop.org) In 2017, the average salary for those working in forensic science in Ohio was $65,890, slightly higher than the national average for this occupation ($61,220).

The BLS (2017) provides the salary range for forensic science technicians in Ohio:

  • 10th percentile: $44,840
  • 50th percentile: $63,100
  • 90th percentile: $93,700


The top-paying metropolitan regions and the reported annual average salaries for forensic science technicians were:

  • Akron, OH: $68,490
  • Dayton, OH: $67,340
  • Columbus, OH: $64,430


The top-employing metropolitan regions (and number of forensic science techs employed) were:

  • Columbus, OH: 140
  • Cleveland-Elryia, OH: 80
  • Akron, OH: 70


Typically many of the jobs in forensic science may be found in the larger cities due to higher crime rates and a greater need for crime-solving teams. For example, the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio employs forensic scientists to assist local law enforcement agencies. It also has the distinction of being the first crime lab in the state of Ohio to be accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). Having this national accreditation may be an indicator of the integrity, consistency, impartiality, and quality of the laboratory services. Other employing organizations for forensic science technicians in Ohio may include:


Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators in Ohio typically work in laboratories, police stations, classrooms, medical examiner offices, hospitals, or morgues or at crime scenes. There are also a number of positions available in federal, state, and local governments.

For those seeking professional support on a regional level, the Ohio Identification Officers Association may offer an additional sense of community with its annual training conference.

Forensic Science Programs in Ohio

There are a number of top undergraduate programs for forensic science in Ohio. After graduating from high school and completing typical prerequisites such as chemistry, mathematics, and biology, students in Ohio may be eligible to apply. Please note that many employing organizations also require that their candidates be of “strong moral character,” and may ask for background checks, reference letters, or other measures to ensure students’ ethical behavior and suitability for the work.

Forensics schools in Ohio include:

  • Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), comprised of four convenient locations, offers undergraduate training for aspiring forensic technicians, forensic technical assistants, crime scene investigators, crime scene examiners, and even law enforcement officers. COTC’s associate of applied science (AAS) program in forensic science technology offers classes such as principles of forensics, instrumentation analysis, and advanced crime scenes which can help prepare students for careers in forensic science. This program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. COTC has campuses in Newark, Knox, Coshocton, and Pataskala, Ohio.
  • Ohio University’s College of Arts and Sciences in Athens offers a bachelor of science (BS) in forensic chemistry. It boasts one of the longest standing programs of its kind in the country, and notes that the rigorous curriculum and quality instruction can prepare its graduates for employment in modern crime laboratories, law enforcement agencies, and other organizations including the FDA, OSHA, and the EPA. OU’s forensic chemistry BS program has earned accreditation from the prestigious Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) and is the only program in Ohio with this distinction.
  • Tiffin University of Tiffin, Ohio offers a bachelor’s of criminal justice (BCJ) degree in criminalistics. The coursework covers topics such as principles of criminal law, human anatomy and physiology, ethical issues in criminal justice, and criminology. As part of the program, students are required to complete a supervised internship to get hands-on experience in evidence handling, instrumental analysis, and research design. The school also offers digital forensics and forensic psychology specializations.
  • Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Bowling Green offers a number of forensic science programs out of its Center for the Future of Forensic Science. Students at BGSU can earn a bachelor of science (BS) or master of science (MS) in forensic science. The BS program allows students to choose a specialization as well, with programs for forensic biology, forensic chemistry and forensic examination (including trace evidence and latent prints). The school also offers professional training programs for working professionals in forensic science and crime scene investigation. Finally, the BGSU campus is home to an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) crime laboratory and investigation facility.


In addition to the various forensic science program offerings in Ohio, students also have a number of resources at their disposal including the Forensic Science Institute of Ohio and the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC).

Hybrid & Online Programs

Some students in Ohio may have full-time jobs or family commitments that prevent them from attending a traditional “brick-and-mortar” school. Online and hybrid programs can provide additional options and flexibility. One of the more convenient online options for studying forensic science in Ohio is North Central State College.

  • North Central State College (NCSC) offers six campuses in the Ohio cities of Shelby, Ashland, Bucyrus, Willard, and two in Mansfield. In addition to these more traditional schools, NCSC offers a 100 percent online associate degree in criminal justice comprising only 12 courses which typically takes under two years to complete. For graduates of a police officer academy, NCSC also has a forensic science certificate option that only requires five classes.

Please note that many forensics programs in Ohio require classroom participation since laboratory procedures require sophisticated equipment that can’t be used from home.

Students may be able to find additional online options and coursework through campus-based forensics colleges in Ohio, or by checking out the national listing of online forensics and CSI programs.

Program Accreditation & Certification

There are a number of organizations that provide accreditation to forensics programs in Ohio. Schools that have received accreditation typically undergo a rigorous process to ensure they are meeting standards of quality in instruction, program content, student outcomes, and other measures. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) is the primary organization which accredits programs in forensic science. As noted above, Ohio University is the only OH program to receive FEPAC accreditation at the programmatic level. However, those programs that do not have FEPAC accreditation can still offer highly valuable training. Further, FEPAC accredits very few programs overall and does not consider programs without a heavily science-focused curriculum, which means most CSI and criminal justice programs are ineligible for accreditation.

At an institutional level, schools such as the Central Ohio Technical College are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association.

Finally, forensic science professionals do not need any special certification to practice in the state of Ohio, but some employers may express a preference for certified job candidates. Here is a list of some of the organizations offering certifications for forensic scientists, technicians, and CSIs in Ohio:

School Name City Forensic
Total Forensics
Grads (2016-2017)
Tiffin University Tiffin x x x 62
Youngstown State University Youngstown x 12
University of Northwestern Ohio Lima x x 11
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Bowling Green x 11
Sinclair Community College Dayton x 8
The University of Findlay Findlay x 7
Washington State Community College Marietta x 7
Zane State College Zanesville x 6
Ohio Northern University Ada x 4
Central Ohio Technical College Newark x 4
Defiance College Defiance x x 4
Southern State Community College Hillsboro x 3
Cedarville University Cedarville x 3
Lorain County Community College Elyria x x 3
University of Akron Main Campus Akron x x 2
Ashland University Ashland x 2
Stark State College North Canton x 1
Miami University-Middletown Middletown x 1

School "total forensics grads" data provided by IPEDS (2018) for the 2016-2017 school year, and includes all certificates and degrees awarded for the following programs: Criminalistics and Criminal Science, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Science and Technology, Forensic Psychology, Cyber/Computer Forensics, and Financial Forensics and Fraud Investigation.